Reed has formula for staying strong

CHICAGO -- It might seem that Chicago White Sox closer Addison Reed is being overused if you look simply at his number of appearances the past couple of weeks.

But the truth can be found behind the numbers in a strength-and-conditioning plan formulated by the Sox medical and training staff, and it has been a major reason for Reed's success and durability.

Reed has appeared in 59 games, and more recently pitched in 10 of the team's past 12 games. The wear and tear of a long season is a concern in most baseball circles for back-end relief pitchers. That is especially true as the season winds down and the appearances mount.

"We make sure we talk to these guys, and the lines of communication is good between our staff and them," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You want your players to be healthy and have a long career. We don't want to ever put them out there risking injury. Every day for some of the guys is a little different. It is about good communication and relating to them that we need to know how they are doing without them thinking they are backing out of anything."

Reed became the White Sox's full-time closer in 2012. He had 29 saves in 2012, pitching in 62 games. Finding that fine line between taking the ball every night the team is in a close game and asking out because of soreness or minor aches and pains is crucial. Knowing when to ask out can dictate the difference between a long or brief career for many macho bullpen men.

"Reed has always had a left knee problem," said Alan Thomas, the Sox strength and conditioning instructor. "He has had to take some things upon himself to keep his knee in check. He has taken his program to higher levels in order to keep himself on the field and productive. A lot of it is Reed doing the extra work."

Thomas has helped lead a band of hard workers who have performed extremely well going into the dog days of late-season baseball. Reed is laid-back but very proactive in taking care of himself, Thomas said.

"He has been in our program a long time, so he knows from the past our programs can enhance his own God-given talent," Thomas said. "You learn that intensity in our training fluctuates depending on the time of the year we are in. If you made it this far, you know you have worked hard and the system is working for you as well."

Reed, like most good closers of the past, has developed a routine on and off the field to help keep both his mind and body strong.

"The only way I would ever ask out and not take the ball is if something was torn or broken," Reed said. "This is baseball. Everybody gets sore or bruised this time of year. That is when doing the extra work with our staff really pays off. I will always try to pitch through soreness. I would never go out there too hurt to help the team. I have never felt that way. I feel great, and if we have, let's say, 30 games left, I hope I am in 29 of those."

With 36 saves coming into Wednesday's game, Reed is on pace for 45. That would be good for second on the Sox's all-time season saves list. Chicago bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen holds the top spot with 57 saves in 1990.